Ready High School girls basketball coach Joe Lang had a clear plan when deciding where to place his team during the Division III district tournament drawing Feb. 3.
He wasn’t especially keen on the idea of ending up in the same bracket as the team the Silver Knights lost to in a district final a year ago – top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Africentric – so he chose what could be considered a tougher road in the short term by going into the other bracket.
Heading into Ready’s tournament opener Feb. 19 at home against 20th-seeded North Union, Lang told his team he was optimistic about its chances of finding postseason success.
“Division III is not good this year,” Lang said. “(Heading into the drawing) only 10 teams had a better record than us.”
If eighth-seeded Ready defeated North Union, it will play a second-round game Saturday, Feb. 23, at third-seeded Cardington, which is one of the few teams Lang was wary of heading into the seeding meeting.
Considering Lang’s desire to be in the opposite bracket as the Nubians, the only other option would have had the Knights in a winnable first-round matchup but with a second-round game against second-seeded Worthington Christian.
Ready, which lost to Africentric 63-23 in a district final last season, fell to Worthington Christian 52-35 on Dec. 15.
The Knights lost to Newark Catholic 56-25 on Feb. 14 in their regular-season finale to drop to 8-13 overall. Senior forward Derricka Bramwell scored 15 points.
Senior guard Ariyhana Marshall and junior guard Bre Hejduk also have been steady contributors for the Knights, who entered the tournament having lost five of six.
Among the positives during the final weeks of the regular season, Ready hung with Fairfield Christian before falling 48-43 on Jan. 26. Fairfield Christian received the No. 1 seed in Division IV.
According to Hejduk, the Knights were “really prepared for the tournament.”
Cardington lost to Olentangy Berlin 53-38 on Feb. 16 but is 19-3 and features one of the area’s top players in 6-foot-3 post player Casey Bertke.
Still, last winter, the Pirates were the No. 2 seed but were upset in a district semifinal to finish 22-2.
The ability to play defense like the Knights did during a 31-25 victory over DeSales on Jan. 31 was among the reasons Lang was confident his team could be dangerous in the tournament.
Ready finished 3-4 in the CCL.
“We’re not a great offensive team, but if we can defend like (we did against DeSales), we’ll be in any game,” Lang said. “We’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
Boys basketball team preps for tourney
The boys basketball team is preparing to face an opponent that has been one of the area’s feel-good stories this season.
On Monday, Feb. 25, the 10th-seeded Knights will visit fifth-seeded Fairbanks for a first-round Division III district tournament game.
After going 10-12 last season, the Panthers are 20-2.
Ready beat Wellington 63-54 on Feb. 12 and lost to Watterson 48-26 on Feb. 15 to close the regular season at 10-12 overall and 1-7 in the CCL.
With an 84-55 victory over Hannibal River on Feb. 9, the Knights snapped a three-game losing streak. Darius Parham made four 3-pointers and finished with 25 points, Garrison Budd scored 15 points and Cade Canter added 13.
Parham had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Budd scored 15 and Cade Canter added 14 points and 10 rebounds against Wellington.
“(Parham’s) really good at getting to the basket,” coach Tony Bisutti said. “He’s got to work on his conditioning and a lot of things, as a young player does, but I think he gets it.
“Our guard play has been a revolving door all year. We’ve got different guys stepping up and I’m looking for one guy to do that. We’re going to see pressure, and if it’s not full-court they pressure hard in the half-court, so we’ve got to continue to develop ways to alleviate that.”
Wrestlers prepare for sectional action
The wrestling team opens the postseason in a Division III sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Madison Plains.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Rayland Buckeye Local.
Ready had six competitors in the CCL duals Feb. 13 at home and lost to Hartley 54-6 in a semifinal but beat DeSales 27-12 to finish third. Hartley won its sixth consecutive title.
The Knights closed the regular season Feb. 16 by placing 11th (76) in the 12-team Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles behind champion Dublin Coffman (336).
Evan O’Connell (106 pounds), Aiden Aiello (120), Andrew Halko (145), Paul Martello (138), Cameron Jones (126) and Jacob Robinson (195) are expected to compete at sectional.
“They should all make it out (to district), I’m hoping,” coach Anthony Aiello said. “I’m optimistic.”
Bowlers begin postseason play
Mary Zerrien and Maryann Rucker will represent the bowling program in the Division II district girls tournament Thursday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to the state tournament March 1 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
At the sectional level, where the top 12 teams advanced to district, the girls placed 19th (2,709) of 31 teams behind champion Cardington (3,534) on Feb. 15 at HP Lanes and the boys were 27th (2,798) of 32 teams behind champion Caledonia River Valley (4,047) on Feb. 16 at HP Lanes.
Zerrien finished ninth (511) and Rucker tied for 36th (451) to advance.
Wesley Hendricks led the boys team with a 92nd-place finish (440).
The girls finished the regular season 10-3 overall, 7-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division and 3-3 in the CCL, while the boys finished 7-9 overall, 6-6 in the COHSBC-D and 2-6 in the CCL.
Smith swims at district meet
Sophomore Elaine Smith saw her swimming season end in the Division II district girls meet Feb. 14 at Ohio State.
Smith finished ninth in the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 2.54 seconds) and 11th in the 500 free (5:35.21) to score 15 points for Ready, which finished 21st behind champion Columbus School for Girls (355) as 30 teams scored.
In a sectional Feb. 9 at Columbus Academy, Smith was fifth in the 200 free (2:04.4) and 500 free (5:36.14).
She also was a district qualifier in both events a season ago.
“It was really good,” Smith said. “I dropped two seconds to a 2:02 (in the 200 free) and my 500 felt good. I wanted to drop some time. It was (a) pretty good (season). I was close to my time throughout the whole year, give or take two or three seconds.”
Also competing for the Knights was junior Katie Smith, who placed 19th in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.99) and 27th in the 200 individual medley (2:38.1) at sectional.
Katie missed earning an at-large berth to district in the 100 breast by one spot.
“(Elaine) had a (personal best) in the 200 free and got ninth (at district),” coach Ann Smith said. “They both were first-team all-league. They continue to swim for the Hilliard (YMCA) so they’ll go from here and go to (club swimming).”